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Category: Coquitlam Page 1 of 4

Battle of the Burgers at Hard Rock Casino

This evening I was one of six food writers and reviewers invited down the “Hard Rock Vancouver” (which is actually located in Coquitlam) for their newest feature: “Battle of the Burgers”. This would be the first of many competitions to breathe some new interest into the casino’s food program. It first launched on May 1st, 2019; inviting guests in to try one of six creative, limited edition burgers. Six burgers dreamt up by “Hard Rock’s” in house chefs and staff, and our group had the job of judging them all. We were also the very first to learn about this competition and to try it for ourselves.

But you too can try these new burgers over the course of May (ends May 31st). And based on customer’s purchases and votes, the winning burger will find a permanent spot on the “Asylum’s Lounge’s” (within Hard Rock) menu. For every burger ordered a vote is placed, and the customer gets a ballot. The ballot enters them into a draw to win free burgers for a year. (One per day, 356 possible burgers in a year). Similarly, there too is an incentive for the chefs who has their burger chosen as the winner.

Each burger is created by one of the very multicultural members of the kitchen. It serves as a good way to get them engaged and allows them to showcase their food on a plate. Each burger is named after a song or artist, a fact that is included on the burger’s bio, along with where its creator was born, and their favourite singer/performer.

Our judging was based on presentation, taste, and creativity. I mainly focused on the latter. I was searching for a burger that didn’t taste like any of the many others I have had. What were the chefs doing to take this their own.

The “Viva Las Vegas Burger” showcased Chef Fernanda’s mixed heritage and the familiar flavours she grew up with. This is a beef burger with chimichurri mayo, onion salsa, Italian sausage, pineapple bacon jam, kale, tomato, and mozzarella cheese; all on an onion bun. The zesty sausage was the stand out for this. Its heated flavour was well balanced by the tangy mayo and the refreshing salsa. A favourite amongst the judges. And although the menu lists it, there actually wasn’t any kale in this burger, but instead plenty of peppery arugula.

The “We Jammin’ Spam Burger” was my favourite, spam isn’t new to the game, but all that topped it was new to me. Chef Krisken from the Philippines, was inspired by his love of Bob Marley and surfing in this one. This gave you every flavour from salty and sweet to umami and bitter. Fun for the mouth and a winner for spam enthusiasts. Grilled spam, grilled pineapple, jalapeño jam, Japanese mayo, yaki nori, and cheddar cheese, on a onion burger. The use of spam was a flashback to my childhood. Here, the salty meat product was paired with familiar flavours. It had a Japanese feel with the crispy seaweed and sweet and creamy mayo; and a tropical flair with the juicy grilled pineapple. Our judge’s panel agreed that this was great, but it would have been made better with a fried sunny side up egg.

With the “Guinness in the Jar” I was looking for more of that classic dark and stormy beer to come through. You certainly smelled it when it arrived; in the form of a warming, beefy stew. White cheddar, Guinness braised onion, butter lettuce, tomato, and Guinness aioli on a brioche bun. Our chef creator for this one was Mark from Ireland. And his stewed onions in Guinness was the focal point of this burger. There was plenty topping the tasty beef patty, finished with the classic pairing of cheddar. Overall, a hearty and warming burger, and probably the best to pair with a pint.

The “Black & Blue Beatles Burger” is for those that love blue cheese, and I do. Although I wish it gave me something new to enjoy with it. Like some grilled peaches for some sweetness, or even some hot wing sauce, to play off that popular combination. Blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumble, cracked black pepper, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on beef patty, between a brioche bun. Here, the Chef Kulwinder did not fall on her background, but instead crafted a burger from what she liked and what she has found success in, in the past. Once again I did like the flavour and all the cheese, but tonight I was searching for something unique. Here, a mango chutney for sweetness and a nod to the Chef would have been nice. These were the creative twists that I was looking for. Next, I would suggest separating the battered and fried pickle spear that topped the burger, from the actual burger. Pickles and the blue cheese don’t jibe, both are very strong flavours that leave you craving something fresh and sweet to balance them out with. I learned the hard way and had a battle in my mouth.

The “Burger of the Stars” is by Chef Antonia from Venezuela. She tapped into her Mediterranean heritage for this, also pulling from Spanish and Latin cuisine. An olive tapenade mayo with smoked paprika, roasted red pepper, goat cheese, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on brioche bun. The roasted pepper was plentiful and most pronounced, where I wish I had more from the olive mayo, to give it more depth. A tasty burger, but there wasn’t anything to set this one apart.

“Burger for the Weekend” is the brain child of one of the casino’s promotions manager. He went for chicken as his protein and focused on building a healthier burger. Our judging table was surprised by how much we liked this, especially considering there wasn’t a chef behind its conception. Johnny D simply had something similar in Hawaii and wanted to recreate it for “Hard Rock”. I liked the use of chicken to better highlight the array of toppings. I just wished that it was charred and jerked in rub for more of a blackened chicken flavour. This would have gotten along even better with the sweet chilli and the creamy avocado standouts. Here, I also wanted more sweet chilli sauce, and a thicker consistency, like spread for a stickier texture. Grilled chicken in a sweet chilli sauce with mayo, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, avocado, and cheddar; all on a brioche bun.

 

There you have it, six all new burgers eagerly awaiting your approval. So head down to “Hard Rock’s Asylum” to try them all, and vote for your favourite for a chance to win a black burger card and the ability to dine on burgers for a year! This is only around for the month of May so hurry down soon. And I suggest timing your visit for a weekend of live music, to fully enjoy the “Hard Rock” experience. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ASSYLM
HARD ROCK CASINO
2080 United Boulevard, Coquitlam BC, V3K6W3
604-523-6888
hardrockcasinovancouver.com

Honjin Ramen

My partner works in New Westminster and has slowly begun to search out new places for dinner. Today he invited me to check out a newer ramen shop by his. This is “Honjin Ramen” in Coquitlam. Located in the plaza adjacent to the Silvercity movie theatre. Here, their little shop boasts “Authentic Japanese noodles” that they make themselves in house.

They have been open since April of this year, despite what their menu might say. Our server, who I guess is also the owner, based on his stature, and out of everyone he was the most keen on engaging with his customers and seeing to their needs. He waved off the bold first line on the menu reading “soft opening”, as it was something to disregard. I guess when you print a menu in colour and laminate it, you plan on using it for a while.

The restaurant was very brightly lit. It felt uniform and sterile, clean of debris and clean with its lines. Although sleek, it wasn’t a comfortable setting to eat slow and linger at. There is no music playing, nothing to cover up the pauses in conversation and the lone cough in the corner. The quite allows you to hear the hum of the fridge, and the kitchen at rest. Today there were three people behind the counter waiting for an order. And two more hovering around the dining area floor, looking for the slightest hint that they are needed by their assigned tables. Although earnest, it didn’t feel very welcoming. More like you are being watched, be cause there is nothing else for them to do. I certainly felt the eyes when I had to take the photos below. And the temperature within the restaurant was just a little too warm. To the point I felt discomfort and even more so when hovering over the bowl of hot soup below.

Each wooden table with matching chair and bench included a collection of sauces, spices, and extra seasonings. So many small jars and squeeze bottles that the intended tray couldn’t house them all. Vinegar, togarashi seasoning, garlic paste, soy sauce, a house made chilli sauce and a store bought version. The only way I know this is because I had to ask. I wished they were labelled instead

My partner had us share two of the dishes he would return and order again, should he like either of them today. The “Tonkatsu” is deep fried pork coated in crispy bread crumbs served with tonkatsu sauce, and a side of shredded cabbage. Served with steamed rice, a side salad with dressing, tangy pickles and miso soup. At $8.95 this was a great deal and a filling meal. With all the small sides and little bites you can have in between your pork cutlet, the meal lasted, it felt wholesome and it covered all flavours and textures. The pork itself had a great coating, and the meat inside wasn’t dry. My partner found it true to the taste he remembered when he first had it in Japan. And I liked it with the milder tonkatsu sauce. I am not really a fan of it in the first place, preferring more of a sweeter dipping sauce; so this was a good compromise.

I was impressed by the heartier miso soup. There were plenty of bits to chew through. Seaweed, regular tofu, the fried variety, and green onion. Like the broth below, this serving too was oily. I didn’t mind it in taste, but didn’t like the residue that adhered to your lips because of it.

The “Shio Ramen” featured a salt based chicken broth with homemade noodles, chashu, corn, marinaded egg, bamboo shoot, green onion, and roasted seaweed. It was super clean, flavourful, but not rich. I liked the variety of elements, how they offered variation in each bite. The sweetness of the corn, fermented qualities of the bamboo, creaminess of the egg; and the fatty, yet super tender pork meat. It was good, but as a whole it didn’t really stand out compared to all the other ramen offerings around. That was until I looked to the garlic paste on the table. With a glob mixed in, it gave my noodles new life and a longer lasting impression. However it also left me with the lingering taste of garlic on my tongue, and therefore I assume breath.

The “owner” took the time to promote and talk up his stamp card program, explaining to us that after the 10th visit or dish ordered and 10 stamps later we would get a plate of gyozas for free, but should we keep collecting to 20 stamps we could earn tonkatsu, or any bowl of ramen at 30 stamps. Stamp cards aren’t new, but the amount expects here is. 10 orders for one side felt pointless. If you can afford and do end up eating here 10 times, the possibility of free gyoza isn’t the reason. 4-6 visits feels more reasonable. With 8-10 for a main. Thought when it still came time to pay, I asked for one anyways. And ironically he looked confused over my mentioning ir 30 minutes later. We left with a card and two stamps.

We came into an empty restaurant, but left one that was full. The once awkward silence was now replaced with kids laughing, tables chatting, and plenty of clanging and sizzling from kitchen.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They aren’t a destination, but instead, a good option for a quick and inexpensive meal in New West. $8.95 and $9.95 are such good prices for the quality of what we got and the portions of it. Most other ramen places just as good, charge you $12-14 for a bowl. The above at under $10 is great for everyday eating. An easy option for people like my partner and myself, who don’t really cook or meal prep. Therefore every dollar matters, and you certainly get your value’s worth here. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HONJIN
228 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam BC, V3K 6V7
604-553-7960

Miracle Belgian Waffle

My guest and I were looking for a late night dessert spot, not in Vancouver. This challenge took us far away, 10 plus km, to the heart of downtown Coquitlam in slight snow. And sadly, all this trouble for the worst waffles I have ever had.

The cafe was set up like a warehouse, cold with an exposed ceiling and piping. Not necessary the decor I would conjure up for a coffee and dessert spot, offering such decadently decorated waffles. With only a handful of their informative and decorative chalkboards filled in, it felt like they were newly open, instead of being the long standing addition to the neighbourhood that they were.

You order at the counter all the way towards the back. The well lit refrigerated cooler lights your way past the black walls and black furniture lit under dull bulbs.

Given the chillier night, I started our time here enjoying a matcha latte that I have no complaints about.

As for the waffles, they looked good, and were shaped right, so it was so surprising how badly they tasted. First they were the densest waffles I have ever had, definitely frozen and re-heated. It wasn’t fluffy or chewy, just tiring to chew through. Cutting into it was like cutting into uncooked pizza dough. So bad that I originally paid for one to go, but after my first bite I went back to the counter to ask for a refund. The clerk didn’t even flinch when I explained my reasoning and was candid about how bad their waffles were. But sadly, there was no budging on the waffles they already made, that we were currently trying to eat through. So we ended up forcing ourselves through dessert, as to not waste food or our money spent on them.

I ordered the mango and white chocolate waffle combo, finding myself eating around the waffle to enjoy all the tasty ice cream with sweet chocolate drizzle and tangy pineapple fruit for balance.

My guest got the espresso and milk chocolate duo, just like my desert, he too found the espresso ice cream on his waffle and the sauce over it the best part. All this was fairly ironic, given the name and promise of the cafe.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was far to get to and the product was not worth the price or the drive. No reason to return when I can get better in grocery store freezers, that I toast to bake myself. I was so unhappy by my experience that my guest was compelled to apologize for the recommendation and for me treating him to it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MIRACLE WAFFLE
160-2950 Glen Drive, Coquitlam BC, V3B 0B8
778-285-1004
Miracle Belgian Waffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cineplex Cinemas Coquitlam and VIP

The full VIP experience at Silvercity Coquitlam

My partner and I don’t often go to the theatre to watch movies. We much rather the comfort of our own home, to be able to discuss the movie as it plays and to pause it when we need to use the washroom. Not to mention the price when comparing the cost of tickets to a download or subscription to Netflix. Then you layer on the cost of food, should you get peckish mid way through. All of which comes at a greater deal when in the comfort of your own home.

None-the-less we do make the journey when it’s a big blockbuster movie with an large budget, think any Marvel movie or a Tarantino pic. It just seems a shame to watch it any less than the screen it was created for. Plus its good to invest in a date night here and there when in a committed relationship.

So seeing as it is far and few in between that we visit a theatre, whenever we do we treat ourselves to the VIP experience. So far never for the food or the ability to drink in the theatre. But for the convenience of reserved seats and the ability to stroll in last minute without the need to search for your optimal perch. That and the seats are larger and designed for two. With a thicker arm rest on either sides, it creates the illusion of space between couples, allowing them the ability to push up the arm rest that once separates them, to come to together and watch together. Side by side, like you would on your couch at home.

We came 15 minutes to the start of “Blade Runner 2049”, a cult classic, that has been given new life in our modern times, with an increased movie production. And after printing our tickets at the kiosk by the entrance, we proceeded to the VIP lounge. It had a separate entrance, with its own attendant behind a podium. Here they check your ID, as they serve alcohol in this sectioned off area.

Past the doors is a lounge area with bar, high top tables, and couches for those watching a VIP movie, to be able to sit and enjoy the space before or after it. We have yet to do so, as we often opt for the late showing which is coming just in time to catch the trailers and leaving as soon as it is done. Although I have and do like their adjacent washrooms. Here they have a hall of single stalls for VIP ticket holders to use. They were only slightly cleaner, but a lot more private and spacious.

Through the perk you get for paying for a more expensive seat, you can enjoy in-seat service. You can hunker down and servers will take your order and bring you your desired meal, right to your assigned seat. We came early to enjoy it, but failed to factor in cook time, or the fact that others may be utilizing this service as well, causing the kitchen to be backed up. We didn’t get our food until 5 minutes into the movie, when the theatre was darkened and you held your breath as your server traversed stairs in the dark, holding a full tray of food and heavy drinks.

Each seat comes with an arm rest that swings out to be used as a stomach height dining platform. The menus are stored behind your chair, slotted into holders. It is page turner with “shareable” tacos and boards, handhelds like burgers and sandwiches, and entrees with a deal to enjoy 2 for $16. It looked promising enough. Most of which is available in some variation on many bar menus. So already we lowered our expectations, but little did we know there was a level under “below expectations”. It was worse than we thought and my partner even had stomach pains because of the food. But more on that later.

To begin, you have at wave at any one of the servers standing to either sides of the screen. They stand at attention at the very bottom of the staircase, looking up. Keep in mind their ability to take your order ends as soon as the show starts, for safety and possible disruptive reasons. Any one of them come to you, to answer any questions you may have, followed by taking your actual order. Once again our lowered expectations, had us believing that asking for recommendations would be pointless. So we kept our ordering safe.

My partner was expecting an indigestion, hoping he would be disappointed. But that is exactly what he got: an immediate and lingering stomach ache. It didn’t help that when he specified no onions in his “Hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich”, he got plenty of them fried crispy. We ended up sending it back for them to remake. Our food was already one of the last to arrive, after the movie started; and now we had to send it back? All this work, only for him to take a bite and pass on the rest due to disinterested its bland taste.

As a side, he upgraded his fries into a poutine with cheese and gravy, thinking that it would be fairly hard to mess up. We were wrong in this too. This wasn’t the safe bet he had hoped, you could tell this was made without care. Just a lumping of ingredients, one over another. The fries were from frozen, easily identified with each straw’s ashy finish. The gravy was quick to congeal, it thickened and globbed up, leaving the remainder of the fries at the very bottom without any sauce; even if this was just a packet roast beef gravy, it was at least flavourful. The cheese was all melted in a lumpy ball, but at least there was enough of it in proportion to the overall serving.

I on the other hand, wanted to see how they faired with more of their restaurant-ish options. So dared to try their “Popcorn cauliflower”, which they interpreted literally; with actual popcorn kernels, giving things a different texture. The menu listing both being seasoned with real movie theatre butter, but I didn’t get any of that. It was decent as a whole, but after a few bites, it got boring with one flat taste. Crispy bread hiding fully cooked, and still firm cauliflower florets.

With a bar and the need to check ID, I figured they would at least employ a trained bartender, however I was disappointed by my Caesar cocktail as well. This was the saltiest Caesar I have ever had, it made my lips pucker and had my eyes squinting. It was like they knew it would be poorly done so tried over compensating with extra seasonings and spices. It was an assault and one that even the melted ice couldn’t help.

And the worse part of it, the food cost just as much as our tickets did. And we knew that even if we brought up to any of the staff or the manager, nothing would come of it. It is just one of those things you accept, as you should have known better than to order a meal that came to almost $50 with tip, at a theatre and expect it to be good.

If you are hungry I would just stick to the large popcorn and soda combo. The VIP drinks and popcorn cones in their own branded black containers, with discrete detailing. With it, they were clearly trying to dress the experience and live up to the VIP prestige.

As for the movie, let’s just say it is a good thing that I don’t review films.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would still go to the theatre as a “VIP”, however will never again order anything from their regular hot food menu. Expectations were lowered and it still left me dissatisfied. They are better left as an after dinner activity. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VIP SILVERCITY
170 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam BC, V3K 4X9
604-523-1584

Takano Noodle Cafe

I love a good bowl of ramen, so when a friend highly suggested this place for its authenticity, I was willing to drive all the way to the middle of Coquitlam, just to give this literal mom and pop shop a shot.

You never know when visiting smaller restaurants, so I called ahead to make a reservation on the day of. I was invited in and told not to worry over seating. They were located a slower area, surrounded by businesses with earlier closing hours. So by the time we pulled into the parking lot, they were only one of two food providers still opened, a little past 7pm. But inside they were almost seated to capacity, along their six tables and their lengthy bar top. We hopped on the latter and saw an exchange of customers in and out during our stay.

There isn’t much to the shop. Its mustard coloured walls were the backdrop to a bevy of Japanese knick knacks. Printed cloths flags over the doorway and squares of traditional Japanese style art depicting samurais and geishas on the walls. The wooden toys, painted plates, and folded origami done in the traditional Japanese styling furthered their authenticity in little pieces.

You smelled the delicious scent of their homemade soup walking in. “Mom” stood at the ready, behind her counter. She was the one to assist and serve, and the one that was there again when you were ready to have your bill rung through. “Pop” was the one in the kitchen, the one who took the orders that “Mom” shouted out. He stood steady behind the stove, you could see him tilting his wok and hear the scrapes of his tools across it. When a few of the multiple table orders came up, “mom” utilized a push cart to serve and bus tables. It barely fit in the aisle between our counter seats and the column of four top tables behind us.

The menu was a simple list of possible ramen broths and a few of their variations. Either miso, shio, shoyu, or a vegetable broth; with the same toppings in each. Bean sprouts, onion, carrot, bamboo shoots, corn, charsiu (BBQ pork) and green onion. There is also an option to have your ramen as part of a combo with gyozas, for extra. Or have your noodles with additional pieces of pork, cabbage and seafood instead, or teriyaki chicken, even with extra hot spices in the broth.

When we were seated, we joined three tables already in waiting. Luckily they got all of their food relatively quick soon after, and we just had to wait for our meal to be processed and prepared. All the customers in today spoke Japanese to the owners, it gave you the “Where the locals eat” vibe. This was further proven by the way “Mom” greeted regulars and remembered their orders. Including one lady’s dietary requirements and her desire for an unlisted tofu ramen.

My guest and I both opted for the make it a gyoza combo, with four freshly steamed dumplings. You could tell how fresh they were by how hot they were at their centre, and how they easily crumbled under the weight of your chopsticks. They were tasty enough, but I prefer a more starchy texture and a meatier chew from my gyozas.

My guest loves ramen, but is a lot less adventurous than I am. Therefore her bowl is not the most accurate account for their “Shio ramen”, which is prepared using a broth with a light salt base. She had it without the intended beansprouts, bamboo shoots, onion, and green onion. Although she kept the one piece of charsiu (BBQ pork) and the corn. She then compensated for the emptier bowl by exercising the option for extra toppings, for extra. She went for five pieces of wonton for $2.50 and ended up only eating one. Like the gyoza it had the same filling and left a lot to be desired texture wise. As for the ramen itself, she liked its thinner soup, lean meat, and fresh noodles. It felt like a healthier bowl, and for those missing the typical richness of ramen, you have the ability to ask to have butter added in.

I had all the toppings in my “charsiu ramen”, which is basically the “shoyu” ramen with its rich soy broth, but with more than one piece of pork. Instead this serving had four thicker cuts with a good amount of fat on each. They offered an additional flavour and texture along with the bean sprouts, onion, carrot, bamboo shoots, corn, and green onion that I did not miss out on. My meatier and richer broth was far more tastier than that of my guest’s.

I wouldn’t necessarily drive all the way back if I am craving a bowl or ramen, especially as I found their’s quite comparable to ramen at other places. However where they stood out was in their authenticity, their earnestness, and their ties to their immediate community. When all the orders were done, the chef came out to engage in his customers, speaking in their native tongue. And each diner got a personal hello, goodbye, and thank you combo from “Mom” on their way in and out. You felt lovingly welcomed in this place.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would considering coming by more often if it wasn’t so far away from my home. Their bowls are a good price point, at $8.95 or $9.95 per. Whereas I have paid as much as $14 for servings elsewhere. And we walked in, were seated, and then served in under 10 minutes. The only thing they were missing was the option to add on a soft boiled egg to the mix. Don’t deny your cravings

 

TAKANO
3242 Westwood Street, Coquitlam BC, V3C 3L5
604-461-3798
takano.ca
Takano Japanese Noodle Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa

Just coming back from my trip to Asia, we were looking for dinner, and what better representation of that in North America than at a fast food chain? And seeing as I didn’t see or have any Mexican in Malaysia, we made the long drive to “Taco Bell”. Which just so happens to finally offer their limited time only “naked chicken chalupa” to us Canadian. Almost a month ago we tried visiting another “Taco Bell” for it. This was right when their existence was advertised in the U.S. market. However, back then I was given a side way glance as the employee taking my order hadn’t even heard of such a thing. To read about that service experience and to see I ended up getting in substitution, click here.

But tonight, I was staring face to face with my coveted prize. There was a poster of it on the window and another above the cash register, all I had to do was point. I upgraded to the full “big box” for $9.69. Which is a combo with a beef burrito, their fries supreme, a 20oz fountain drink, and a caramel apple empanada for dessert.

The fries is a mild chilli cheese fries with concession pump melted nacho cheese, tomato, seasoned ground beef, and sour cream. It all clumped at the centre of the serving, causing the already soften fries to be even on the more mushy side. But as a side it offered a change in texture and a complimentary taste to the burrito. The burrito is basically an excess of nacho beef and more liquid cheese bundled up in a flour tortilla. It was so salty that I found myself squeezing the filling out for a more balanced bite. And to end my meal of brown and yellow, the fried dough empanada offered some sweetness with its gooey apple pie filling.

But the feature and star of the box was the chalupa made using fried chicken instead of the traditional fried corn cups. To be specific the shell was a marinated all-white-meat crispy chicken shaped in a “u”; housing lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream. A great option for those wanting to cut out the carbs of the traditional chalupa shell, or needing to go gluten free. I was just looking for more meat. I feel that the shell of chicken shouldn’t substitute the ground beef it normally has. But boy, was it good. Crispy fried chicken as an easy hand held. I would come back for more. And the best part about eating this is that with every bite you get chicken. Whereas in a normal chalupa or taco, the good stuff is at the bottom and sometimes you just get tortilla and lettuce up top.

My partner got the double layer taco big box, as he always does and did in the link above. This runs at $9.29. The main is two beef tacos wrapped in both a hard and soft shell. This removes the hard decision of having to choose between a soft flour tortilla or a crunchy corn shell. With this combo he always asks to have the churro that comes with it substitutes for the cinnamon twist. These are essentially a fried crispy rice cracker, as light as the cinnamon and sugar that it is dusted in.

And seeing as we were at the to the dual “KFC” and “Taco Bell” stand alone in Coquitlam, and it was a Tuesday, we took advantage of the “Tuesday special”. Two pieces of the colonel’s fried chicken and a small bag of fries for $3.29. It would have felt like a better deal if I didn’t remember the promotion being once called “Toonie Tuesday” and marked up to $2.99 after, still operating under the toonie title. Though judging by our willingness to pay, and the traffic in the restaurant today, the public still found it a good deal and therefore were willing to wait in a lengthy line to pay. Although they were still complaining about the speed in which the orders were being placed and taken. There was just one cashier talking the orders, and completing the sides for each. It did give the kitchen the time in needed to keep up with the dine in orders and the ones coming through the drive through.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
“Taco Bell” is one of those chains we find ourselves craving. Cheap and easy Tex-mex with bold flavours. And today I enjoyed the “baked chicken chalupa”, but would have loved it surrounded by my ultimate favourite: the taco with a Doritos chip shell. And it looks like they removed the latter for the former. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TACO BELL
Pinetree Village
#120-2991 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam BC, V3B 6J6
604-464-2025
tacobell.ca
Taco Bell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Montana’s, Rib Fest

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My partner wanted ribs and after a few disappointing dinners out for some, we finally went to “Montanan’s to guarantee him his fix. Walking up to the place he complained how hungry he was and how he could smell the scent of the meat he wanted to eat. But it was busy this Saturday night that we would not get to eat any of it anytime soon. We didn’t think of making reservations, so when we came at 7pm we found ourselves having to waiting until 8pm to be seated. Although they were able to take our names and our number to call us when our table was ready.

The restaurant was as I remembered it the handful of times I was ever in the area and wanted something cheap and meaty. A cabin motif, perfectly reflecting the rugged outdoor Canadian lifestyle. Wood logs, hockey jerseys, canoes and paddles, and antlers crafted to form a chandelier.

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In the end our wait earned us a great booth table towards the back. Here, tables were pre-set with parchment paper and a glass of crayons for those with children and the need to keep them occupied. Kids that wanted to could draw, my partner was one such kid. Though, sadly we discovered that the crayons available for use were sitting in a shot glass of tobacco sauce. Imagine a child holding on to one of these crayons, then realizing it is wet, instinctively going to lick their hands dry, only to discover an awful burn in their mouths. We brought it to the attention of our server.

He eventually found a green crayon on the floor and went to work. This kept him busy as we waited longer than usual for our food. Given the busy service and the popular time and day, I could have expected as much. Our server was late to take our food order as she was expected to be one of three staff members needed to sing the birthday song (more on that below). And when we finally had our order taken, it took over 45 minutes for it to actually arrive.

But despite the rush and stress our server and majority of the others within ear shot held their composure and remained friendly. They were identified by their casual dress code. Their jeans and flannel look matched the country vibe of the restaurant well. Our server’s energetic disposition was contagious. Everything was a positive yes. I could see why there were so many large groups celebrating birthdays here tonight. It was fun and causal.

For each birthday person, the staff rung musical triangles and called attention to them and their table. First comes an announcement, followed by the singing of their own rendition of happy birthday, or rather a birthday chant. And to make this even more in to a spectacle the birthday boy or girl gets to wear a helmet of stuffed antlers on their head.

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When it came time to order, we were excited to learn that their “rib fest” was back. It advertised mouth watering, sauced up, and fall off the bone ribs. They featured three options with sides. But my partner went with the classic 6 rib in their “Rib n’ wing combo”. It gave you a choice of sauce for their famous ribs, and on their four double dusted chicken wings. He went with the honey garlic over his ribs and the chipotle honey for the wings. For sides it was the Mexican corn, fries, and in house baked corn bread.

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The ribs were tender, but we missed the traditional BBQ sauce flavouring. The honey garlic he had instead lacked kick. The chipotle honey gave the wings more flavour, but wasn’t necessarily complimentary to its thick breading. It would have been better left as a dry rub seasoned with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The sides were pretty standard, chewy fries and a cup of corn that tasted like salsa with the coloured peppers.

I was looking for something a little lighter and gravitated towards the “chicken waffle club sandwich”. Southern fried chicken breast with maple sriracha, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and two strips of double smoked bacon. All between two flame grilled Belgian sugar waffles.

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This was a saucy burger that made a mess. Therefore the more I allowed it to sit, the more the soggy the bottom waffle got. It’s run off pooled at the bottom of the skillet it was served in. It also turned a portion of the side potatoes to mush. But worst off was the lettuce in the sandwich that was quick to follow, aided by the mayo and saucy. Sandwich crafting 101, you don’t put mayo and lettuce together. As for the flavour, this was one of the best seasoned chicken breast in waffles I have had. The crispy chicken with saucy spreads and chilli spice, between sweet waffle really gave the sandwich its own identity. As my partner’s first taste of chicken and waffles, he liked what he had here, especially the mix of textures.

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For the side I upgraded my choice of fries or one of two salads for their “ultimate appy”. The in “house seasoned Montana’s Chippers”. The regular entree version is seasoned with savoury dill and served with their in house made honey dill dip. This was just salted. The chips where perfectly crispy, offering a great side, better than fried.

As I mentioned earlier, between our two hands on either entrees we made quite the mess. We went through a mound of napkins and had to ask for more. Therefore were grateful to been provided wet wipes at the beginning so that we could do a quick clean up before switching from two hands to picking off the mess with fork and knife.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It definitely satisfies the craving for classic eats at great prices. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MONTANA’S
2929 Barnet Hwy, Unit 1046, Coquitlam BC, V3B 5R5
604-472-7772
montanas.ca
Montana's Cookhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ta bom Korean Cuisine

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Photos of this restaurant and their signature dish have been coming up on the activity feeds of some prominent food bloggers, enough to have me planning a trip down myself.

But first parking and getting there. They are located in an area of Coquitlam that I am unfamiliar with. A stretch of block that has opposing traffic separated by a fence and sidewalk parking that you have to pull up and into at an angle. And then have to pull out of by reversing into oncoming traffic. This proved especially difficult with the snow on the asphalt, that hadn’t been shovel and was now a large mound of slippery ice. At least there wasn’t also the addition of a meter charge to have to contend with.

We came before 6pm and found the early bird dinner crowd wrapping up, and would only have to wait 10 minutes for us to begin our meal. They are often busy and don’t take reservations, so you run a risk of having to wait, if you choose to visit during peak dinnering days and times. Considering the need to wait, it would have been nice to have such an area, at the threshold of the restaurant, to do so in. But their square footage went into the dining room and the ability to give those sitting, ample elbow room and enough space in-between tables to offer the feeling of privacy. That and the select tables that came with wooden separators that functioned similar to cubicle walls.

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Here decorations were minimal. The far wall that separated the front of house from the back was painted brown and labelled “Ta Bom”. Below the protruding lettering you could make out the movement of those working the kitchen from their literal hole in the wall window. In celebration, an LED lit birch tree and some festive figurines showed unanimity for the season. Other than that, only restaurant adverts for their new dinner special and Korean ones for beverages graced the walls.

The menu was a heavy folder of laminated pages. Each item listed in English with its Korean name in alphabet and characters. There were lots of delicious sounding dishes to pause on and photos to steer you in the right direction. However we would focus on the first page, as we came for the visual nature of the hot plate and could not afford to be distracted given the amount of food that would come with it.

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The menu lists each “hot plate” option by serving. And with a minimum order of two you are basically doubling the listed price by two. So at $14 or $15 for each, you are paying $28 or $30 for the entire portion. And that price is if you don’t request any of the add-ons, which I suggest that you do.

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You choose your main protein. We went for the newest addition: “Stir fried spicy small octopus and pork” because it would give us a taste of two proteins for the price of $15 each person. Each “hot plate” already comes with rice cake mixed in to the main, and corn and egg as sides. For $5 dollars more you also get cheese, which ends up being the best part of the plate, in my opinion.

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A wooden pedestal gets brought over to the table first. It is meant to prop up the cast iron plate. There is the possibility to light it with a flame, but the option isn’t exercised. Instead it is used more like a trivet. With pot holders and a steady hand, an employee brings out your meal. Everything you have ordered it laid out in this specially designed dish. The meat at the centre is still sizzling, the cheese is happily bubbling, and the egg is turning from a clear liquid to an opaque solid. But you don’t get to eat just yet. Next the server pulls out a pair of scissors and tongs and begins cutting the meat at the centre of the dish down to size. This helps with a more even distribution of food between you and your dinner mate. It also makes it easier to dip things into the cheese troth. Although I suggest doing this first, as without an additional heat source the cheese is quick to congeal and harden to a waxy solid in the shape of the mould. Much like the egg which basically becomes an omelette, but is still a little runny at its centre. Although when it comes to cheese, crispy and oil cheese is still good cheese.

To see the described above in action, click the link.

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As for the main it is throughly coated in a sweet and salty sauce, a taste very familiar in most Asian cuisines. And perhaps repeated in our dishes here? My guest swears that our side of spicy chicken below, tasted similar, if not the same as our hot plate of octopus and pork. Lots of salt, and an overall sweetness. A one tone flavour that was given breaks thanks to the help of the sweet corn, salty cheese, and light egg.

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The complimentary dish of three familiar cold Korean sides helped as well. This came first and well before the hot plate. Potatoes, bean sprouts, and kimchi.

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But the bowl of rice we added on was ideal. Everything was so saucy that the rice was a great base to balance things out. Also I just like enjoying protein with carbs.

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As mentioned, we also had their “Mom’s pop chicken”. Spicy Korean style popcorn chicken with green onion and sesame seeds sprinkled overtop. When asked, our server recommended this as their most popular dish, next to their spicy soup. I found it and our hot plate above different. This had more heat to it. Crispy one biters with plenty of sticky sauce to colour it red.

The staff were incredibly attentive and polite. They wore black tee shirts with the restaurant’s thumbs up logo on the back to identify themselves. They stand at the ready to refill tea and clear plates. And when a table vacates, they swarm to bus and clean with great teamwork. This so that the next group in wait is able to be seated as soon as possible.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This, I full heartedly recommend. Their one of a kind hot plates are worth the traffic ridden drive during rush hour for. This is an interactive and unique dining experience with some great Korean flavours. I would love to come back to try other plates and some of their impressive looking soups and noodles too. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

Ta Bom
C-1046 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam BC, V3K 3P3
778-355-1717
Ta Bom Korean Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Woody’s Pub

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With all the hoopla going on in the American presidential election, it was only a matter of time before more of that came up north, and only a matter of time before someone thought to take advantage of it.

And this is why we came to “Woody’s” today. They had a special menu to help you solidify your candidate choice via burger. Both are basically the same, one was full of baloney and puns, and the other spam and its own saucy play on words. We would soon get a taste of both.

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I only heard about the pub because of this promotion. So driving to it, I was surprised at how busy it was on a Thursday, and how many laps I had to take around the lot to find a spot. In fact when came out after our meal, a few drivers saw it fit to make their own stalls, parking where no lines existed. It wasn’t until we entered did I realize the additional buzz was due to the New England Patriots game, along with other sporting matches playing across all their wall to wall television screens.

The setting was your run of the mill bar across three rooms. A stage for live music, a waxed wood floor for any dancing, and plenty of cushiony booth seats. We were made to feel comfortable, which was nice considering the need to wait and the feeling that they were short staffed. It was a busy night, furthered by a prize draw every 30 minutes.

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We were each give a raffle ticket, two were dropped off at our table without an explanation. In the main room, an announcer spoke and called names and number. We really had no context, but after the three rounds of prizing, our number was actually called and we had won. Our prize was a cooler, a ball cap, and a tee shirt. None of it we need, it was just more fun that we had won. Especially as we were planning to leave, but me not being able to find my keys delayed us. Proof in my belief that everything happens for a reason, good or bad.

As I mentioned earlier, it felt like there weren’t enough servers. We were left waiting after our hostess gave us our menus. So when we were finally noticed, we made sure to ask all our questions and order everything we wanted, all at once. A server passing by was kind enough to take our order. She explained that our intended server was now slammed and that she would be taking care of us going forward. And she did a good job of that, clearing our empty plates and completing circuits of check ins.

What impressed me most about our destination was the variety of people they brought in, and the variety their menu offered to them all. Burly men in leather, a couple of elderly Korean couples out on double date night, sports enthusiasts in jerseys, and women in visibility vests looking for an after work drinking hole, and a large group of business professionals in power suits and tie. And here we were looking for a comfy place to eat at in our sweats and faded jeans.

The menu was an extensive read, but it gave you confidence, just as the exterior of the restaurant did. They have been “serving the community since 1934”, and proud to have that on signs and as the header of the menu. They prided themselves on “making their food with love” and “serving (it) with pride”, for those who love “homemade comfort food.”

They had your regular and run-of-the-mill bar cuisine with comfort eats like tacos, chicken tenders, calamari, and potato skins. Perfect appetizers for some more dressed up burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and wraps. There was a shrimp caesar, some lamb lollipops, “steak Neptune” with beef and shrimp, a pan seared salmon wrap, and “epic” burgers with an over easy egg or blue cheese.

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We definitely had to take advantage of the 30 cent wings, available all day Monday to Thursday (we came on the right day), with the same deal also available at various times during the weekend. But only you order any drink. It was a bar, so we got 20oz beer and a cider at $6 a sleeve. It was nice that each came in their own specialty glass.

The menu claimed that their wings were famous, and that was worth seeing for ourselves. They sounded impressive, but looked on the smaller side when they arrived. But I guess I can’t expect much when paying $3 for 10. The minimum order for each flavour was 10. You choose between either five sauces or four seasonings, and either one of two dips. Reading the menu, I was confused at first. I thought we could stack flavours, choosing one sauce and one seasoning. That wasn’t the case, but they were willing to toss one in the other for 50 cents extra.

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My guest choose the lemon pepper, which was a dry rub; and I the honey garlic, which was a lot more saucier. The lemon flavour was strong with a tart and salty finish, and a granulated crunch from a thorough tossing and steep deep fry.

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Honey garlic is always a safe bet, and a good comparison point. It made the over cooked wings that much more juicier with its thick and sticky sauce. I was interested in taking a batch home, but was told it wouldn’t be at the 30 cent price. I would have to pay the full price which was $1 per wing at 12 for $12. The wings were good considering how much you had to pay, but they weren’t good enough to pay full price for.

They forgot the blue cheese dipping sauce we had ask for, but at least we weren’t charged for it. Though I could have used it to help change the taste, or better yet: blue cheese with a couple of sticks of vegetables. But once again at $3 a plate, I shouldn’t ask for more.

The “Woody’s presidential election burger” asked you to choose your side for $15 each. It was Trump versus Hilary. We got one of each burger and both were served with their classic thick cut fries. These were some of the nicest, chewy potato fries that I have ever had.

You can’t help but to discuss politics when ordering either of these burgers. It had us speculating over the future of the states and the possibility of a civil war, as predicted by baba vanga, a mystic who has have some of her other predictions come to light. (A really interesting Wikipedia search, I suggest reading it when/if you get the chance.)

As for who would get which burger, we decided the best course of action was to not get too political, and to share both servings splitting both down the middle.

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“The Trump Burger” was full of baloney, Russian dressing, and a small pickle. They were clever with their ingredients and jokes. I would have preferred the baloney and pickle as part of the burger filling, instead of them just being toppings that skewered it. The patty for both burgers were fairly thick, and the need for a thorough cook had both on the drier side. Luckily both their sauces were as plentiful as they were humorous.

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The Russian dressing in this was similar to a tangy thousand island. But it just made the lettuce soggy and the tomato slip and slide under the pressure of your grip around the crunchy brioche bun.

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“The Hillary Burger” came with a slice of spam, Lewinsky sauce, and a sour pickle. I was curious about the sauce, and could only imagine it being white, thick, and unappetizing. So when I saw a dollop of it on the top, and more of it oozing out the side I couldn’t help but chuckle.

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It tasted like a watered down ranch dressing, but overall pretty unnoticeable. It was the spam that stole the show for me. Like with the burger above, I wished the toppings were on the inside, rather than just garnish on top. It’s party was also dry and it also proved difficult to maintain between two steady hands.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
There aren’t too many destination dining spots in my area, so it’s nice to get such a place with such a breath of variety within a 20 minute drive. They are a clean and chill bar spot, with an extensive menu guaranteed to satisfy a great variety of diners. They also have some pretty generous drink and food specials worth coming back more for. And the occasional event and activities with prizes are a nice bonus. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WOODY’S
935 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam BC, V3K 1C8
604-526-1718
woodyspub.com
Woody's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Denny’s

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I decided to write about this, as I had previously written about their competitor. A competitor that is in the same area, under the same circumstances. After our last choice was a disappointment, we were hoping for a better breakfast here.

We were attempting another trip out to the Okanagan. And we were set on having pancakes again, but this time we sought out the “Denny’s” on lougheed to help us.

I was hopeful as they advertised their new buttermilk pancakes that claimed to be fluffier, tastier, and better.

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I tried my luck on their “peanut butter cup pancake” breakfast. Milk and white chocolate chips embedded inside two fluffy buttermilk pancakes, that are then topped with hot fudge, and drizzled over with a peanut butter sauce. I don’t recommend this first thing in the morning, it was too much. Too much chocolate, too much sauce; and too much sweetness, that you couldn’t even taste the dough of the pancake. The chocolate inside and out was overkill. But the peanut butter sauce was a winner. Less than half way through I gave up on the top layer; and instead tried to enjoy the undressed one, though it was still punctuated with plenty of chips. Overall this item would be better suited on the dessert menu. Or better yet, a paired down version for breakfast: a chocolate flavoured pancake with just the peanut butter drizzle.

But over dressing aside, these were good pancakes, as told by the plain pancakes my guests had with their breakfast platters. With pancakes it is all about texture and this one nailed it. And best of all, they came with a side of quality maple syrup. Real maple as identified by two Quebecois born and raised, visiting Vancouver for their second time. The pancake and syrup alone, already had me preferring “Denny’s” to their pancake competitor.

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As for the other plates, my partner exclaimed that by looks alone, it was already an improvement. Shoe string hash browns, eggs as you like them, frozen sausages cooked through, and chewy bacon slightly congealed with fat.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As far as fast food breakfast diners go, “Denny’s” is my preferred chain. Not the best, or the most inexpensive, but with a few locations open 24 hours they make a great stop late at night. And they offer more than just morning time cuisine, with several pages to flip through, they have something for everyone. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DENNY’S (lougheed mall)
500 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam BC, V3K 3M7
604-939-6545
dennys.ca
Denny's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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